September started off great for the girls and I. Over Labor Day weekend, the girls and I traveled to visit my sister and her 20 month old daughter. It was a quick trip with us arriving late Friday night and leaving early Monday morning. The girls and I loved our two days with my sister and my adorable niece.
My niece loves to play, and I thoroughly enjoyed lots of floor time playing with her with her toys. We had lots of fun moments together whether she was playing “catch” with me by whipping balls in my area and yelling catch each time she threw one my way as she laughed and laughed. We also had a lot of fun playing a mimicking game. MiKayla did lots of giggling as she videoed us while my niece would yell out a word or noise, and I would do my best to mimick her exact sounds. We spent a lot of time laughing together. It was so fun to bond with her. She is a very intelligent 20 month old, and I love how she says “aunty” when when wants to tell me something or is checking to see what I am up to. We took her to the zoo one day as well which was a lot of fun. She loves animals as do the rest of us, and the day was a lot of fun. The girls and I enjoy time with my sister and are thankful for our weekend trip.
My sister has played a special role in my kids’ lives and has been a wonderful aunty. She does her best to stay caught up on what is going on with the girls and is always cheering them on even though we live in different states. I have loved watching the joy that she has in her daughter and all of the fun that she has with her. Family time is such a blessing. My sister checks in on me regularly as well. She is one who will make statements that shows how she is understanding of what is happening with me in my grief journey. She is the one who reflected outloud with me on her understanding of what it was like for me to send Kylee across the world this past summer when she went to Africa with her college ministry team. My sister spoke to me about it and showed with her words that she was recognizing the struggle that must be after burying my son. She also recognized the “why” and how important it is for me that my girls continue to grow and soar. My sister continues to check on me now that I have moved into this new season of having an “empty nest”. She knows that my children have been the center of my world their whole lives and that there is nothing that has been more important to me than my children on this earth. She knows her sister well and understands that this is a big change for me. I am very thankful for her care and concern in my life and in the lives of my girls. She loves the three of us very much, and we sure love her.
The next week brought my parents for a visit, and the girls came home for the weekend. As always, our time with my parents was great. My parents have been a constant source of stability and have so much love for the girls and I. I know that their hearts hurt so much for my children and I when my husband died in a work related accident in August 2011. They have also hurt so much for the loss of their grandson, and then they have experienced added pain watching their daughter with a broken heart after having to bury her only son. They have provided this constant source of stability by being at the girls events and cheering them on, by spending time with us in our home several times a year, and for continuing to love us no matter how we were doing in our grief journeys.
Each year, my mom makes a beautiful tee-shirt quilt in honor of my son PK. I sell raffle tickets at the home volleyball matches, football games, and basketball games. At the end of basketball season, we draw out of the raffle tickets, and the winner gets the quilt. Every dollar that we raise from the quilt raffle goes to 3 $1000 scholarships that we give out each year in honor of my son. I know that each year as my mom makes the quilt then it is one of the ways that she is honoring my PK. She does an incredible job, and I giggle each year as the requests come in for her to do others. However, my mom has only been quilting for family and her annual quilt in honor of PK. Each spring when I have the opportunity to give out the scholarship money to three seniors then it blesses my heart in ways that are difficult to describe. It is important in my grief to have ways to honor my son. It is important in my grief to continue his legacy. Giving scholarships in honor of him each year to help other student athletes in college is such a privilege for me. Each year I am so excited to give out the money and to continue PK’s legacy. We have given out the three $1000 scholarships for the last five years since my PK died which brings our current total to $15,000. This is such a blessing, and it has been truly wonderful to have my mom be such a special part of it.
My parents’ visit was different this time as usually we are heading to my kids’ sporting events. Now that I have two girls in college then that was not the focus of this visit. MiKayla got home on Friday and Kylee made it home on Saturday. Kylee continues to be a part of the track team at her university and had to “work” the cross country meet before coming home. It is always special for me to watch the interactions between my parents and my girls. I am very thankful that we are a close family and that we prioritize time together. As the girls and I have so harshly learned with the deaths of my husband and son, we want to make the most of each moment and of the time that we do have together. We do not take time together for granted.
I have read about the “love languages” before. I am quite convinced that for my mom quality time and touch are her love languages which simply put is the way that she shows her love. My mom loves spending time together and visiting. She loves quality time. She is also a hugger and shows her love not just in quality time but also in touch with lots of hugs and love. I am also quite convinced that my dad’s love language is acts of service. My dad is a kind, compassionate man. He also loves the girls and I so much. I know that he has hurt a lot through the years after watching me lose my husband and son. I know that it has been hard for him not to be able “to fix” our pain and grief in the ways that he “fixes” so many things through the years. One of the constant ways that he shows his love to me and to the girls is through his wonderful acts of service. Whenever he is at the house then we know that our home will be blessed and fixed up with whatever is needed. The girls know it as well. MiKayla was chasing her kitty before their visit and somehow the closet door jumped out at her and became unhinged 🙂 She had no worries and assured me that her grandpa would fix it. Of course he did. He found a lot of humor in her story about how the door jumped out at her. 🙂
My dad also has a tremendous love of animals and particularly dogs. He humors his granddaughter MiKayla with her kitties, but he has loved dogs all of my life. We think of him as the dog whisperer. His golden retriever Tessa is getting older now and is having more health problems. I do not know if there has ever been a more loving and sweeter dog than his Tessa. She is having a harder time moving around now and has pain in her legs and hips that they are trying to help her with. I have always wondered what animals could sense when they are around their humans. Tessa has seemed to have a very special bond with me as I have been walking through my grief journey. I am thankful for each visit that I get to see my faithful friend. Somehow, I truly believe that she has sensed the pain that I have been in as I have grieved the loss of my husband and son these last years. Tessa seems to have a special connection with me that truly blesses my heart. This past time she continued to show her love to me when I was around. My parents shared that Tessa does not get up like she used to because of the pain that she has been experiencing. However, during her visit with us, my dear friend Tessa was up each time I saw her with her tail wagging and eyes shining. At night when we had the dogs outside, I have a song that I sing with Tessa and she gets excited and dances around. Tessa and I have been doing this for years. My parents were amazed when my dear Tessa begin running around and dancing while I sang. Somehow even though she has been hurting, she still remembers our routines and continues to show her love. It is amazing the joy that our companion animals can bring to us. I shared about all of the ways that animals have blessed our family in a past blog. I was very thankful for my visit with my dear Tessa.
My parents have gotten a new puppy Bella who is now 6 months old, and she was along for the trip as well. She is a bundle of joy and has all of the wonderful golden retriever characteristics. I love watching my dad train his puppies, and I am thankful that they have added a new addition to our family. She is SOOOOO cute!! My sister’s golden retriever was with my parents as well as she stayed with them this summer. Dakota is a fun loving dog, and my dad has been calling her Bella’s nanny. 🙂 Dakota was also Max’s nanny (our oldest golden retriever) and has been a special part of our family these last years. During my parents visit we had six dogs here with my three and the ones traveling with them. My dad was busy just taking care of all of his friends each day. 🙂
I am so thankful for the time that the girls and I had with my sister and niece and my parents this month. We appreciate each moment with our family. It was great to have the two weekends with my girls as well. They are off to a great start in their college year and both seem happy. MiKayla has been studying a lot, is meeting lots of new friends, is active in Kylee’s ministry group, and is going to play intramural soccer and volleyball this year. She has the sweetest roommate ever who has been one of her best friends growing up. We all love Anna Kate! They also have been enjoying working out and going to classes like spin class and hip hop class that are offered at their student workout center. Kylee is also off to a great start of her senior year. My girls are loving being at the same university and are spending lots of time together. Kylee is trying to figure out what next year will bring. She had been planning on going to graduate school to become a physical therapist. She is now debating between taking a year and working with the campus ministry group or going to graduate school. Kylee is continuing to grow and change, and I am excited to see how everything unfolds in her life. I am ever thankful for these two incredible daughters of mine and of how they continue to grow, heal, and soar!! I have much hope in my heart for their futures and for all that they will grow to be and how they will give back to others. They are both growing and healing, and we are so thankful to each of you who continues to journey with us in love and prayer. We thank God for each of you!! Thank you so much to my sister, niece, and parents for the wonderful time that we were able to have with you this month.
“Our family is like the branches of a tree. We may grow in different directions, yet our roots remain as one.” Author Unknown
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